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Public Programs

Some cancer survivors are eligible for government-funded health insurance, disability benefits or cash payments. While the eligibility requirements and enrollment process can be complex, and patients are often unaware of these programs, financial caseworkers and social workers can advise and help you throughout the process.

Apply to enroll in a public program as soon as you think you may qualify for benefits as many programs have waiting lists or waiting periods before benefits take effect.

Public health and financial assistance programs include:

  • Medicare. Medicare doesn't cover all medical expenses, but patients can apply for supplemental insurance, sometimes called "Medigap." Call (800) MEDICARE (633-4227) or visit for more information.
  • Medicaid. Medicaid provides coverage for certain individuals and families who have limited income and assets. Each state has a Medicaid program with its own eligibility and coverage rules. Visit the or contact your state or local department of social services (or welfare office) for eligibility requirements. The Marketplaces can also help you determine if you or members of your family may be eligible for Medicaid. You can enroll in Medicaid anytime through the year, if you're eligible.
  • State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). SCHIP provides free or subsidized health coverage for eligible children. It is part of Medicaid in many states. Call (877) 543-7669 or visit
  • Hill-Burton Program. Federal law requires medical facilities that received federal aid for construction to offer free or low-cost medical services to patients unable to pay for treatment. Call (800) 638-0742 or visit
  • Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits. Veteran’s benefits include comprehensive healthcare services and other benefits for veterans and dependents of active-duty, retired or deceased members of the military. TRICARE® is the healthcare program serving uniformed service members, retirees and their families. For information, visit the TRICARE website. For general VA information, call (800) 827-1000 or visit
  • Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)*. SSDI is an income replacement program for people unable to work because of a disabling condition. Call (800) 772-1213 or visit
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)*. SSI provides a monthly cash benefit for low-income people who are disabled, blind or 65 years or older. Call (800) 772-1213 or visit
    *See Related Links, below, for more information about qualifying for Social Security.


Medicaid Employment Initiatives

The Medicaid Buy-In program is an optional state Medicaid benefit for workers with disabilities who have earnings in excess of traditional Medicaid rules. Workers with disabilities who would be ineligible for Medicaid because of earnings can work and maintain their Medicaid coverage.

The idea is to encourage people with medical conditions to continue working, if they can, without fear of losing their Medicaid health insurance because they make too much money. It allows people to continue working while meeting their medical needs. ​

For more information, visit Medicaid Empoyment Inititatives.

Related Links